Google has funded several efforts
to respond to the enrollment increases without sacrificing diversity gains.
Chris Stephenson has a blog post describing these efforts (https://research.
program-new-tools-and.html), with links
to more information. Until we can convince schools to increase resources to
departments, developing strategies like
these and sharing them are our best
chances to manage “Generation CS”
without losing ground on our efforts to
provide CS education to all students.
If the number of female CS graduates
is decreasing, or the number of male CS
graduates is decreasing, you cannot assume
that the only reason is that universities
are not doing enough to recruit them, or
encourage them, into the field.
There are many possible reasons outside
of the purview of computing, and beyond
the competence of the science and practice
of computing. Not all of them are even
addressable by policies in academia.
There is, however, one factor that is not
even mentioned here. There are computing
“boot camps” popping up all over the place in
the U.S. and outside the U.S. These students
are not being counted I’ll bet because this
article only talks about majors and minors
and “diversity” numbers. I personally know
several women who have been through
these. And the cost is a LOT less in both
money and time-to-jobs.
In other words, computing as a practical
skill is gaining ground, and private-sector
computing (and even many government
entities) are interested more in proper results
than in credentials.
Academia has had it pretty good with all
the federally guaranteed loans pouring into
its treasuries after World War II, but the
burden has been put upon the over-taxed
middle class and even worse on college
graduates. Who can blame the victims for
The decline after the peak in 2003
mentioned here, we all know why that
happened in the U.S. at least. I’ll bet it was
different in India. Starting with the Y2K
I don’t assume that universities are not
doing enough to recruit, encourage, or keep
women in computing. I know that because
there is a large body of computing education
research showing that it’s true.
I encourage you to look at the excellent
books about the work at Carnegie Mellon
University where they successfully have
recruited women so that over 40% of their
CS class is female. Or, check out the articles
on Harvey Mudd College where they are
over 50% female. There is a project called
BRAID ( https://www.hmc.edu/about-
science/) to teach other CS departments
what Harvey Mudd figured out. It’s within
the CS departments’ control to improve their
The research on “boot camps” is
devastating. Many “boot camp” students
take repeated boot camps because they
don’t learn enough CS and can’t get jobs.
The reason why few women pursue
computing in the U.S. has nothing to do
with biology. At Qatar University, computer
science is 75% female and computer
engineering is 100% female (https://
gender balance in CS is much more about
culture than it is about biology.
I have two daughters myself. Both
have tried computer science classes and
been quite successful in them. Neither
are choosing to get CS degrees. There
is nothing wrong with them for pursuing
other subjects. As a computing education
researcher who studies broadening
participation issues, I can list for you all
the things that their CS departments did
wrong—not recruiting, not encouraging,
not keeping women. The problem is with
the CS departments, and the data and
research studies back me up.
© 2017 ACM 0001-0782/17/07 $15.00
Cumulative percent growth of CS majors and instructional faculty since 2006.
Source: CRA Taulbee Survey
Figure B.4: Cumulative percent growth of CS majors and instructional faculty since 2006.
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 013 2014 2015
Cum change in
TT fac per unit
Cum change in
teaching fac per unit
Cum change in
UG majors per unit